Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Children, Books, and Focus

   When I was in the first grade I wrote my first picture book. It was called The Squirrel that Tried to Blow Up the World. I still really like my book . However reading a chapter in Are You Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten, by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover I started to think about the process I was using while writing the book, and certain opportunities I wish I would have known back then. 
   My teacher's instructions for writing our books was to think of a story, write it, and give it illustrations. This is not by any means bad instruction, but I think I would have liked it to be elaborated more. To get the most out of creating a book, the teacher should encourage the students to go through a similar process that real writers do. There should be a brainstorming phase where a child thinks about different and important ideas for the story. This could help those ideas stay focused. Also by having some time to brainstorm, the students might choose exactly what they want to writ about. For example, I really like the story that I came up with, however that thought came by at the spur of the moment and I wrote the book fast. If I had more time, even at 7 years old, I think I could have done more to the story.
   Also words and illustrations should change from page to page but stay focused. Looking back at my book, it was funny to see my main character change appearance page by page. These aren’t bad mistakes for a 7 year old, but if the importance of it was stressed earlier, I might have done better on continuity.
   Lastly I do remember my teacher letting our ideas come solely from us. While we told our story, the teachers typed down our story word for word. Sometimes teachers feel like they need to interject their opinions into their children’s work. While teachers should give important instruction before they allow their students write, the material should come from the students because this will help them build comprehension when it comes to writing and children do come up with very good ideas. In Negotiating Critical Literacies with Young Children, by Vivian Vasquez, a class thought hard and came up with a good idea. They wanted change so they first thought a survey was a good idea. After thinking a little more, they decided to do a petition. While a teacher could have easily suggested a petition up front, by coming up with this idea themselves the children got a sense of pride and comprehending experience.
   These two articles have helped me realize that teachers are here to give children opportunities and resources that their minds can use to come up with great ideas.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Out of the Minds of Babes

As a future teacher who wants to expand my student’s minds and have them and provide opportunities for understanding, I am constantly looking for unique activities. I believe the best activities are those that can keep the interest of a child and also be remembered. In the article “A is for Avatar: Young Children is Literacy 2.0 Worlds and Literacy 1.0 Schools”, by Karen Wohlwend, there is an anecdote about two children who made and played a video game on paper. They had rules and characters and much more. With this activity or in the children’s eyes “game”, they improved their collaborative skills, problems solving skills, creative skills, social/emotional skills and more.
This activity came from two young individuals. They improved different developmental and foundational areas without realizing it. Along with this they created a work of art.

Before reading this section, I saw the picture I thought I wonder what the person who drew was thinking and this looks pretty cool.
The point I want to make is for teachers to keep their eyes open. I learned an unique activity that I can add on and incorporate into my future classroom that came from the minds of two young individuals.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We Create Literacy

   I heard recently someone say that literacy is all around us. I have heard this statement before and I have said it a few times. For some reason I started to think is it really. What if a person is in a box without pictures or colors? Is there literacy? What if a person is blind and can not use braille? Is there literacy? The answer is yes.
   We create literacy, sometimes out of nothing. Sometimes writers who have no prior ideas to stories, can look at a white piece of paper and have a story come alive. Some illustrators can look a barren walls and see a story come alive. People even create stories in their dreams. The visuals that sometimes do not seem to make any sense create vivid pictures that spark ideas and initiate starting points for stories. Individuals who were not born with sight can still dream. Their dreams contain audio representations  and these representations can convey emotion and intrigue just like any word can. (Dreams are an interesting and I encourage people to look more into dreams including this website.)  
   Literacy is all around us and I encourage everyone to take advantage in not only looking for it but creating it as well. Look a piece of paper and see a landscape. Close your eyes and see a monkey laughing hysterically. It is there.